Siendou A. Konaté is from Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) in West Africa. It was there that he earned his Bachelors and Masters degrees. As a fulbright fellow to Binghamton University, his area of specialization is on comparative literature, translation theory, and criticism. He came to poetry reading the works of African writers like Léopold Sédar Senghor, Aimé Césaire, Léon Gontran Damas, David Diop, Birago Diop, and Bernard B. Dadié. Most of Siendou’s poems are political though his work is centered on Africa and he is especially interested in Africa’s relation to the world, and with her sons and daughters in Africa and abroad.

Poems by Siendou A. Konaté

Dark Burden

Siendou A. KonatéThey call Me “nigger”
So I tend to call myself the same
Los otros me llaman “negrito” tambien!
Les gaullois(e)s M’appellent «nègre»
But my skin is maroon,
Just like the cocoa bar
You eat now and then,
Which I grow,
And which you underbuy!
I do not tan
I do not bronze myself
I do not burn in the sun.
There is no darn need,
Because the sun done burnt me already!

Die-Hard Lumumba

I saw the silhouette in the trailer,
A tortured face with dark moustache and beard
Then I comprehended the sphinx-like
And deterring silence of His being,
And because of His outspoken tongue
Against their forked tongues and sandy minds
Inside the corral and outside,
They took Him away,
And they told us
That Blackman is no more:
The lantern is extinguished by a violent wind.
But, let’s talk about Him!
And about where his cradle would rock
And thereby mummify Him
And His deeds,
So that His foes should find
A sweet reason to repent
And upright their horizons,
And so that the posterity should
His shoes sight and happily wear

Weird Sons (Appeal to the villains)

On odd days
Days of heat
But not from the scorching tropical sun
(For that one has already bronzed Us)
They pieced themselves together
One mind
One soul
And one body
Like the unbreakable bunch of sticks
Of which the Old Saying has it
That unity is undefeatable
And they so defeated
The self-appointed messiahs from Dawn
Those who vowed
To claw the Shrouded in Dark Veil
From curse
Jungle tree-jump-suits
And impenetrable thick darkness
Although the most simple-minded of Us all
Knows that the benefactors
Were mercantilist and malevolent.

On even days
The sons and daughters
And the sons
Resigned pathetically and cowardly
And shamelessly
To the whims of our tormentors
And to the scent of luxury
Where the vice entraps the best breed
They subjected
Those that they promised to save
From the good-willed hawks
Worse than the bad old days
Days of hard labor, whippings
And days of human miasma
Their time triggers nausea, revulsion and puking
For they dehumanize their homes
And dignify the abode
Of those who stole Us
And from Us
And yet they proclaim love: “Our Motherland!”
O that they truly love Her

I learned that...

I learned that if God had willed
He would have created the One
Only one species
Peopling the Earth with the same
On and on and forth
It could have been deadly monotonous and boring!
I learned that in an abundant garden
Where greenery amazes to the fullest
With its formidable scent and its tantalizing beauty
The roots of the undesired plants never run deep
When they do
By worms they are gnawed at
Those herbivorous that even the weed poison fails to vanquish!

I learned that it is uncommon to see
A black rose in a fenced white garden
And yet
I lived to see the florist of the corner
Grafting artfully to give amazement to God
With his brownish, reddish and yellowish flowers
And they look utterly beautiful
Only he knows why!

Foggy Avenues

Looking in the mirror
Of my bright days
I can only see a grey face
With scars of pain from a past
That has been copiously entombed
By confidence and victory
Over apathy and failures
Good will used to efface traces
Of grief, sorrow and deep heart wounds
By mishap
The same have resurfaced indelibly
And I now deeply sigh
With no anchor around me
In that whirlwind and the tempestuous sea
Of my past and present experiences
Perhaps, there is no cul-de-sac
Only a thoroughfare to tread
Only then will the blurred face
Fully appear in the bright reflector

Doors Will Open

Knocking on your door
For days and weeks,
Months and years,
Such is the ordeal of the unnoticed ranger
That I am
I have been hit
By Athena’s little arrows
They had my heart bled
With drops of love
That awakens the dead
And weakens the ardor of the arch-foe
And yet
Of hard rock of Stone Age
You have been to my whining
On your door though
I shall always knock
And by it, I shall also be a sentinel
Till I hear the squeaking door
And till by sparkling enamels I am met
At the threshold as I enter

Having It All

We could not counter our own leanings
For we were deep into the abyss of it
A part of it that usually defeats the most willing
And still enshrines its precedence over the most indulgent
The honeyed ring of the song
Whispered in my ears by the whirling water
And the soothing breeze of the Harmattan morning
Which drag dry and hot temperaments?
Added up to liquefy our strong ardor and intent
Meant to climb up the unfathomable depths
Of real ease, smoothness and joy
Had wings grown on our sides
Honey would have soaked them up
And pinned them down
With the source of our stream of joyful sigh

Possibility: Permitted Dreams (I)

When you are walking
Down the lane
That leads to smile
You might as well stumble
Into a crossroad
That leads to tears
You might as well stumble
Into a deadlock
You’d want to walk
Back on your course
A little heart suffices
To walk past the whirlwind
And you will meet with grins
And laughter

Possibility: Encore Hope (II)

When your road is full of potholes,
And you cannot move
As you will
When you have lead-feet
And you cannot lift them
Your path might have already been
Beaten and trodden
(For a long time!)
For you to quench the thirst
That the throat-itching drought
In the land of many
Caused you to suffer
What if your bliss has arrived?

Club Of Friends

We chanted the cascades
Of liberation from the clutches of the West
For freedom brought joy and relief
To the sufferers:
They ceased being thingified

Freedom went by the windows
When the illuminated offspring came by the door
They promised to take us to higher ladders
To wash away the stains
That blemished our dignity and dignity
To restore our expropriated resources

Yet they collude with our foes
When we speak about fire
They hide the water hoses to extinguish it
And they ceaselessly convene
In huge auditoriums
Built with our last savings
To speak, speak and speak
That is all they can do

The big house sends the hullabaloo to us
It is a lifeless snail shell
An empty barrel that pierces our eardrums
Nights and days
That is the Club of Friends!


Down there
On the ground
Soaked with unusual liquid
The waters of breath
Lies a body
That accompanied countless others
Cut into minuscule bits
As if it never was majuscule
This whole is in parts
Because of the sharp machetes
Bought by our clerics and politricksters
The vulture is hovering sky high
It saw a brother turned on his sisters
And a sister on his brothers
And the bald and salivating bird is happy
It smells the decomposed flesh
Of my once treasured hope
And the sky is its enemy now.

I Am

I am not what you say I am
You say I’m dumb
Because I am not cool
Can’t you see that I am shining?
And where there is light

Us And Them

Wandering up and down the continents
I realized that there were countless shades
Of communities and fashions
Offhand, I was taken aback
To see that people did not do
As we do.
And yet, I did not whistle a word
They knew it
As much as I did
They came to my stead
They saw the difference in the rainbow
To them it was repugnant
And they wandered why
We do not do
As they do
Assuredly they know that We are different
But they do not admit it.
There is no fool.

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